Despite what Hollywood portrays, an estimated one in four Texan cowboys of the 1800s were black, and even more were Mexican. Contemporary records are rare, but the American West was traversed by an assortment of black, white, Mexican and Native American cowhands. The term "cowboy" is widely thought to have began as a derogatory term strictly for black cowhands.
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Key Facts In This Video
The original term "cowboy" was a derogatory term for black cowhands. 01:46
When the term "cowboy" started gaining popularity, white men started called themselves cowboys as well. 02:17
It may be because of how well the original cowboys did their jobs that made it an honor to be called a "cowboy." 02:31